Speech therapy is successfully used by many practitioners to treat a diversity of language and speech challenges. From communication difficulties to aphasia and learning disorders, speech-language therapy goals can vary widely, meaning there are ample different approaches and interventions to choose from.

Implemented properly – often as part of a larger blended care treatment program – speech therapy apps can play a highly useful role in a patient’s treatment, allowing them to practice between professional sessions and tailor their program to their unique needs.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at what speech therapy involves, who it can benefit, and some of the best apps you can use to complement your own speech therapy or that of someone you help.

What is Speech Therapy?

Speech therapy covers everything from the diagnosis of communication or speech difficulties to their treatment.

Its overarching goal is to help patients or clients with communicative difficulties, including but not limited to:

  • Aphasia – which have a neurological basis and describe comprehension or articulation difficulties, such as Broca’s or Wernicke’s Aphasia[1]
  • Apraxia – a speech-sound disorder, the most common of which are Childhood Apraxia or Acquired Apraxia of Speech (AOS)[2]
  • Dysarthria – often characterized by poor phonation, articulation, and slow, labored, and/or abnormal speech[3], and
  • Stuttering, lisping, or speech delay.

Who Uses Speech Therapy Apps?

Some speech and language disorders are linked to medical conditions, such as stroke or brain injury, while others have developmental delays or congenital anomalies at their roots.

There are many common reasons that an individual may pursue speech therapy or use a speech therapy app. They often play a key role in rehabilitation from injury or to improve speech difficulties caused by:

  • Damage to articulatory muscles or speech organs
  • Respiratory weaknesses
  • Paralysis
  • Learning or developmental disorders
  • Stroke
  • And more.

Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) and therapists are professionals who specialize in working with patients to diagnose, evaluate, and treat communicative difficulties for a better quality of life.

Given the great range of different challenges they are trained to deal with, they often use a wide array of interventions in their treatment plans.

Related: The Physical Therapy Software Making Documentation Easier For Practitioners

Is Speech Therapy Effective?

The effectiveness of speech and language therapy interventions is a popular topic for researchers, practitioners, and caregivers alike. And as it stands, there is still much progress to be made.[4]

On the whole, meta-analytic speech-therapy research suggests that, at least for children, positive treatment outcomes may depend heavily on the type of intervention used.[5]

As with any other therapy, treatment outcomes may vary greatly between individuals, depending on the nature and severity of impairment, disorder, or affliction.

Using Speech Therapy Apps To Help Others

Speech-language pathologists and clinicians are constantly seeking to improve on practical treatments – and one thing research does show is that stakeholder involvement is important in this process.[6]

If you’re a parent, teacher, therapist, or family member who is hoping to help someone with their speech therapy, you may have considered using a speech therapy app as part of your approach.

So what do they look like, and how do they help?

Types of Speech Therapy Apps

When it comes to speech and language therapy apps, there is a slew of different tools available, including speech-language pathology software.

As devices such as tablets change how therapy is conducted, patients now have a variety of speech therapy apps to help them learn and practice on the move, from a location of their choice.[7]

What Do They Look Like?

Some of the most common speech therapy apps include:[8]

  • Gamified systems – building engagement and giving patients motivational, fun ways to practice speech-language tasks and exercises.
  • Voice-controlled apps – allowing users to record voices, listen to examples of articulation and pronunciation, and engage in longer practice sessions without a therapist.
  • Video therapy apps – which work in a similar way, but are often supplemented with video-modeled of throat and tongue movements, etc.
  • Augmentative & Alternative Communication (AAC) apps – Some apps are designed to as communicative tools, allowing patients to pick out images for words and hold conversations.[9]
  • Flashcard apps – helping with memory retrieval, new word learning, and cognitive speech-language difficulties, these apps can be tailored to make speech therapy easier for children and young learners.

On top of all these, there are also apps on the market designed to help SLPs with the admin side of things – from practice management systems to client management software and more.

These offer functionality that allows you to be more productive whilst giving you the opportunity to sign-up more clients and ensure any investment pays off.

As devices such as tablets change how therapy is conducted, patients now have a variety of speech therapy apps to help them learn and practice on the move, from a location of their choice.

How To Choose the Right App

Are you looking for an app for yourself or a client? If you’re feeling overwhelmed with choice, a few tips to help you tailor your search and narrow down your choices.

  1. Speech therapy software for children usually varies from software for adults. Children and adults will generally be at different stages of development and this means some apps will be easier to use and less challenging content-wise than others.
  2. Different patients prefer to interact in different ways with virtual care technology. Try to consider what you or your client might find most engaging if you’re looking for longer-term commitment and potentially, greater improvements with more practice. A video-based app may be better for some, while others may prefer to listen only.
  3. Cost and commitment. Are you willing to commit to an ongoing monthly payment, or would you prefer a one-off fee? Many apps for both iOS and Android now offer free ‘trial’ versions, allowing you to test-drive your short-listed programs with less risk before investing in any kind of therapy software.
  4. Varying levels of digital literacy required. As with any kind of behavioral health or therapy app, you’ll find some have a steeper learning curve than others. Make sure any solution you pick is suitable for your client’s level of digital and technological competence if you’re hoping for them to fully enjoy its benefits.

5 Speech Therapy Apps To Consider

There is an entire ecosystem for speech therapy apps, with everything from specific to generalized solutions for every practice.

Here, we’ve considered one for younger children, as well as some that are suited for teenagers upward.

With apps for clinicians, carers, and individuals alike, today’s market is full of great speech therapy apps for treating diagnosed conditions or simply improving pronunciation.

Software

Details

Sound Touch Speech TherapySound Touch is designed especially for toddlers and babies, and works well as a speech therapy app for children with learning challenges such as autism or speech difficulties.

It can be used by Speech-Language professionals or parents as part of therapy, and provides engaging, colorful picture-sound pairs to help kids learn words and names. Great for the whole family, it’s available on iOS and Android.

NameSound Touch
Price$19.99
Good ForBabies, Toddlers, Family
Websitehttps://apps.apple.com/us/app/sound-touch/id348094440

Software

Details

Tactus Therapy Speech TherapyTactus Therapy apps can be valuable for treating a wide range of different speech challenges. You’ll find general language therapy, video-assisted speech therapy, and apraxia therapy apps from this developer, as well as a host of different interactive programs for those with aphasia.

Designed for adults, Tactus Therapy offers free ‘lite’ versions that you can try out before upgrading to a full and more comprehensive product.

NameTactus Therapy
PriceTactus
Good ForAdults: Stroke rehabilitation, Aphasia, and more.
Websitehttps://tactustherapy.com/

Software

Details

TalkPath Speech TherapyA scientifically developed speech rehabilitation treatment, TalkPath has received great reviews from patients and clinicians treating aphasia.

Developer Lingraphica has included over 13,500 activities for this iPad application, covering a wide array of areas such as:

  • News
  • Speaking
  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Listening
  • Memory
  • Reasoning, and
  • Daily living
NameTalkPath
PriceFree
Good ForAdults: Aphasia, Language and cognitive Deficits.
Websitehttps://therapy.aphasia.com/

Software

Details

With Speech Trainer 3D, you’ll get both a language and speech app plus tutorials that are designed to help both adults and children.

Good for those working with speech-sound challenges, this offers prepared video-modeled clips that demonstrate pronunciation for 8 vowels, 23 consonants, and other English sounds. A helpful tool designed for special needs educators, speech-language pathologists, and carers.

NameSpeech Trainer 3D
Price$7.99
Good ForChildren and Adults: Speech-sound therapy, Occupational Therapy, Pronunciation.
Websitehttps://apps.apple.com/us/app/speech-trainer-3d/id418333616

Software

Details

   Fully equipped with a patient portal, customer service functions, and customizable treatment templates, TheraPlatform is not a speech-therapy app but a teletherapy tool for practitioners such as pathologists.

HIPAA-compliant and easy to use, TheraPlatform is designed to help with practice management, client interfaces, and more.

NameTheraPlatform
Price$29+ monthly
Good ForVideo Therapy, Scheduling, Care Management Software, Document Management, Billing, Invoicing, Insurance
Websitehttps://www.theraplatform.com/features/hipaa-compliant-video-conferencing

Additional Speech Therapy Materials

Whether you’re looking to streamline or upgrade your speech therapy practice, there are numerous materials available in addition to standalone therapist apps.

  • Speech therapy data forms can now be easily integrated into speech therapy software solutions which can also include billing, dashboards, care plan management, as well as practice management tools.
  • If you’re not a qualified speech therapist, you might also be looking at speech therapy degree programs which can be read at online universities as well as brick and mortar ones.
  • As your practice develops, one important aspect is going to be the taking and maintenance of documentation such as SOAP and BIRP notes. Essentially, this is where speech therapy documentation software is going to come in handy.

With many solutions available to choose from be sure to pick supplementary materials that suit your budget and infrastructure to ensure success.

Speech Therapy Games

Speech-language games deserve a special mention when it comes to communicative therapy for the younger generations.

Speech therapy games can also be more engaging with kids and toddlers than other methods, whilst providing an equally effective way to target speech and language goals.

Speech therapy games can also be more engaging with kids and toddlers than other methods, whilst providing an equally effective way to target speech and language goals including vocabulary, eye contact, and following directions to name but a few.

Whether on an app or in physical form, games for kids can easily be adapted from traditional games, however, there are also a number of games that are specially designed for SLPs, parents, and special educators to use.

Speech-Language Therapy Games To Play

Examples include:[10]

  • Word Jenga – A twist on conventional Jenga, this game involves adding stickers with words written on to blocks, which are then pulled from a tower. Kids can say or recognize words, and this can easily be made easier or more difficult with antonyms, synonyms, and more.
  • Story Cubes – All this requires is six-sided blocks or cubes with different pictures images on each face. Rolling these like dice or playing creatively with them helps therapists, parents and school-age kids to practice creating narratives while developing expressive skills, articulation, vocabulary, and image interpretation.
  • Traditional Games – Time-tested games such as I Spy, 20 Questions, and I Went To… can also be a great way to encourage children to practice pronunciation, phonics, and vocabulary, especially those who need a little creative coaxing.

If you’re looking for something more high-tech, you can also find a number of speech therapy games online which require nothing more than a laptop or mobile device.

Resources such as Story Place and tongue twisters by the British Council can provide different tools for different stages in a fun and effective way.

How To Choose Speech Therapy Software

Speech therapy includes a broad array of treatments for a large variety of challenges and disorders. As such, the sheer scope of available potential software and materials available can seem staggering and daunting.

When shopping, it can help to start with your therapy goal in mind and identify a list of features you’d like, working backward.

What To Look For

When choosing a solution that will work well for your practice, it’s a good idea to think about convenience, and your own or your client’s specific therapy needs.

If your practice could benefit from office management functionality, don’t forget to consider capabilities such as billing, scheduling, and client communications. More specifically,

  • Convenience and Accessibility. If you’re visiting patients rather than sitting in an office, mobility will greatly impact your choice of software. Do note that some apps are designed uniquely for tablets, while others also are also mobile- and desktop-compatible.
  • Therapy Requirements. Different patients and clients require different speech therapy programs; some will be tailored for children, and others cater more to grown-ups. The specific challenge or challenges you’re treating can also impact the effectiveness of such solutions, so it’s advisable to think about whether a potential program is practical.
  • Back-office –Managing the back-office functions such as speech therapy schedule, billing, note-taking, and many of the other things that go before and after sessions can be made much easier with the use of software tools. This will allow you to focus more on your patients and possibly growing your practice for the benefit of all.

Speech therapy software can be great in many different ways however it is not a solution on its own.

Rather, it is there to enhance and improve the human element of speech therapy, enabling therapists to save time from back-office functions whilst equipping them with the right tools to deliver an interactive experience.

Final Thoughts

These days, there are myriad speech software solutions available to help patients reach their speech therapy goals. Covering a vast spectrum of approaches – from video modeling to structured lessons and beyond – it’s now easier than ever for blended care practitioners, parents, and pathologists to find specific solutions.

Whether it’s stroke rehabilitation, aphasia, non-verbal behavior, or even second-language pronunciation – there’s probably an app for that!

When it comes to therapy on the go, the right app can be a great tool to incorporate into your practice, learning, or recovery. If you’re looking for a flexible, convenient way to make progress between sessions, or keen to help someone in a remote location, a smartphone app can be highly valuable.

Have you tried one of the speech therapy apps or techniques we’ve discussed today? What was your experience?

References

  1. ^ Mayo Clinic. (2020). Aphasia. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/aphasia/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20369523
  2. ^ NIDCD. (2017). Apraxia of Speech. Retrieved from https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/apraxia-speech
  3. ^ Guenther, F.H. (2016). Neural Control of Speech. MA: MIT Press.
  4. ^ Law, J., Garrett, Z., & Nye, C. (2005). Speech and language therapy interventions for children with primary speech and language delay or disorder. Campbell Systematic Reviews, 1(1), 1.
  5. ^ Law, J., Garrett, Z., & Nye, C. (2004). The efficacy of treatment for children with developmental speech and language delay/disorder. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 47(4), 924.
  6. ^ Lincoln, M., Hines, M., Fairweather, C., Ramsden, R., & Martinovich, J. (2014). Multiple stakeholder perspectives on teletherapy delivery of speech pathology services in rural schools: a preliminary, qualitative investigation. International Journal of Telerehabilitation, 6(2), 65.
  7. ^ Gosnell, J. (2011). Apps: An Emerging Tool for SLPs: A plethora of apps can be used to develop expressive, receptive, and other language skills. The ASHA Leader, 16(12), 10.
  8. ^ Deterding, S. (2015). The lens of intrinsic skill atoms: A method for gameful design. Human–Computer Interaction, 30(3-4), 294.
  9. ^ Calculator, S. N. (2009). Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) and inclusive education for students with the most severe disabilities. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 13(1), 93.
  10. ^ Beverly Hills Speech Therapy. (2018). Games and Activities for Kids in Speech Therapy. Retrieved from https://beverlyhillsspeechtherapy.com/blog/games-and-activities-for-kids-in-speech-therapy/

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